As a result of pressure from the Guardian newspaper it has been confirmed that Charlie Windsor did use his “royal” status to pressure the Scottish government into signing a contract with Teach First, a company of which he was a patron.
Windsor personally lobbied First Minister Alex Salmond in June 2013. The Teach First company then used that meeting to persuade Education Secretary Mike Russell that it was advisable to meet with its chief executive.
Scottish education secretary Mike Russell had refused requests from Windsor’s employees that he meet Teach First. But three months after Mr Salmond was lobbied by Windsor he changed his mind.
A Windsor spokesperson has confirmed that Windsor lobbied for Teach First.
Alex Salmond enjoys a meeting with Charlie Windsor
Teach First wanted the Scottish government to relax the requirement that teachers have a post-graduate degree. That was to allow it to place teachers without such degrees in Scottish schools as it does in England and Wales. In those jurisdictions it is paid a fee for providing schools with teachers and also receives state grants.
Despite what the Scottish Labour Party education spokesman described as “a huge amount of ministerial effort . . . pandering to this lobbying” Teach First subsequently withdrew from tendering for fast-track teacher training. Scottish universities offering teacher training degrees refused to work with it.
Mr Salmond defended his actions to the Guardian. He claimed that Windsor, whom he deferred to as “The Duke of Rothsay”, was “within his rights” in using his privileged access to government ministers to recommend a meeting with Teach First.
Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Green Party told the Guardian that the revelations made the case for stronger lobbing regulations to stop the Windsor clan having unwarranted privileges in matters not related to their constitutional duties. He said that Windsor “has clearly been using his privileged access to lobby for friends”.
Scottish freedom of information law allows the release of Windsor correspondence, unlike English law. But the Scottish government had refused to give the Guardian uncensored copies of correspondence that confirmed the lobbying by Windsor. Government ministers claimed exemption from freedom of information law but gave in when the Guardian appealed to the information commissioner.
Even in Scotland the feudal Windsor clan is given greater privacy protection that that given to democratic public bodies. Last year the information commissioner complained that the protection given to Windsor correspondence was greater than the law required